Through the Kitchen Window

If you’ve been a follower of this space for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly come up against my waylaid columns before.

For whatever reason, but mostly because I firmly believe that the best laid plans are meant to be flexible, there often comes, moments before submission (figuratively speaking), new inspiration, or, more simply, a topic which absolutely “must” be the column “this month”.

January 2006 is no exception to this Murphy’s Law corollary. We were seated around the kitchen table -- all the kids were home on the weekend because of a “surprise” party I was throwing for my daughter Marina’s 25th and my partner Larry’s 50th (they happen within a day of each other, on the 7th and 8th of December, respectively) -- and somehow the conversation was steered, by Anthony, to the topic of fate. The sum total of our discussion was that we “agreed to disagree”. Marina put it best when she said “This is an argument that no one can win.” Or maybe Anthony had the clincher with his “No matter what you say in favour of it, I can use almost the same argument against it.”

Needless to say, we didn’t solve it around our table this past weekend, but it did get my thought processes in gear and made me wonder.

In the past few years, my family and I have faced what at times have seemed to be insurmountable odds. For all that some of what we’ve gone through seemed, at times to be impossible to get past, we HAVE done so. Not only survived, but survived intact and with a closeness that most people around us comment on and envy. How much of what we’ve experienced was fated and uncontrollable and how much of it did we have “control” over???

This is where my belief in fate comes in. While some might rail and ask how a “higher being” could allow anyone to face so much hardship, my response is, life happens to you as it should unfold and your recourse or “free will” is a function of how you react to it. Do you allow it to beat you, or do you steel yourself to “beat it” with determination???

We’re entering a new year with this issue of Seasoned Cooking. For me, it’s an adventure waiting to unfold. I look forward to finding out what “fate” has in store for us and how we’ll tailor our thoughts and actions to accommodate and conquer all of our new challenges.

What do you look forward to in each New Year??? What are the things you dread most with the passing of time??? What new challenges, if any, will you take on as we enter 2006???

For myself, I don’t usually make resolutions. Life throws me enough curve balls that I don’t have to set myself up for any extra ones. I do, however, resolve to make this year my family’s best ever. And I know, that whatever “fate” has in store, we’ll face it and handle it and come out on the other side all the better because of it.

Winter makes me think of warm, comfort food. Dishes that “stick to the ribs” and are synonymous with all things being safe and cozy. One such dish is my Eggplant Parmiggiana and I share that recipe with you to warm you in the wintry, blustery months ahead.

Eggplant Parmiggiana

  • 3 large Sicilian Eggplant, in ¼” slices, crosswise (into circles)
  • Flour for dredging the eggplant slices
  • Oil for shallow frying
  • 4 cups shredded cheese (any combination you like, I use cheddar, Swiss and provolone)
  • 1 cup plus ½ cup grated parmiggiano
  • 6 to 8 cups of your favourite tomato sauce

The night before you want to serve this, slice the eggplant, lightly salt the slices and layer them in a large colander. Place a plate on top of the slices and a weight (I use a 3l tin of olive oil) and allow it to sit and drain overnight.

In the morning, pat the eggplant slices dry, lightly flour them and fry them in about a half inch of oil till slightly golden. Place on layers of paper towel to drain. You may need to add oil as you go since the eggplant will absorb oil in the frying process.

Once all your eggplant is done, you can begin the layering process. Mix the 1 cup of parmiggiano with the 4 cups of shredded cheese but leave the ½ cup aside. Place a generous layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan and then layer alternately, eggplant, shredded cheese and sauce until the pan is full or you run out of eggplant. End with an eggplant layer and top with a generous amount of sauce. Sprinkle with the reserved ½ cup of parmiggiano and bake in a 350 oven for an hour or until bubbly and golden on top.

Serve with fresh crusty bread and a green salad. Nothing warms your insides up better!!!

I wish for you and yours the happiest of beginnings to one of the most wonderful, magic filled years ever.

And, I’ll leave you this month, with a timely thought: Money does talk, and mine says “Goodbye!”


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